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Graduate Students

Frank Goulart

Frank is interested in the role of organized labor in relation to globalization and ecological crisis. His research examines the closure of a worker-owned paper mill in Oregon and explores the challenges to achieving regional social sustainability in an era of global capital. Broadly, his interests are in the labor and environmental movements, class, power, theory, and political and economic sociology. Frank’s background is in both business and sociology, and upon entering PSU’s program he was awarded the Laurels scholarship for academic merit and the promotion of diversity. He has worked in public health, supporting county-level research and policy, is currently an information systems consultant to a global metals recycling firm, and has taught courses in computer languages and systems design. After receiving his masters Frank plans to pursue a PhD in sociology. He can be reached at

Katy Griffin

 Katy Griffin received her Bachelor's degree in Development Sociology from Cornell University in 2007, with a minor in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Katy is currently working toward the completion of her Master's degree in Sociology from PSU. Her research utilizes a feminist lens to conduct a gendered analysis of an original ethnographic case study. This study was conducted in a Sri Lankan village residing in the buffer zone of a governmentally protected area. Katy examines natural resource use and management through qualitative interviews. She focuses on household division of labor and the potential impact on mitigating strategies involved in Human Elephant Conflict (HEC). After graduating from PSU Katy hopes to continue her work on HEC through the addition of a comparative transnational component, while also pursuing her Ph.D. Katy can be contacted at

Liz Hauck

Liz received her Bachelors degree in Sociology from Seattle Pacific University before moving to Portland to start the Masters program at PSU. She was born in South Carolina and grew up in Spokane, Washington where her family still lives. Her research interests are gender and sexuality, and specifically her thesis research focuses on how people learn about sec through sex education programs in school, as well as from sources outside of school like family, friends and from the media. Liz is a member of the Sociology Graduate Student Organization and aslo currently does survey research at Roosevelt High School. She can be reached at

Whitney Head-Burgess

Whitney received her B.S. from Eastern Oregon University in 2010, majoring in Geography and Anthropology/Sociology. She went on to earn a B.A. in Sociology with a certificate in Regional Studies and Applied Research from Southern Oregon University in 2013. Hailing from Missoula, MT, Whitney has lived in various places around Oregon since moving here in 1999. Currently, she is working on completing her Master's degree in Sociology, focusing on sexual assault reporting and disclosure within university settings. Her overall academic interests lie in a Critical Feminist Theory and Criminology, particularly violence against women and the muting effects of dominant culture on reporting and disclosure of violence. Whitney was a 2013-2014 Blount Scholar through the Omicron Delta Kappa Honors Society and is also a memeber of the Alpha Kappa Delta Honors Society. She can be reached at

Carol Hernandez Rodriguez

Carol received her B.A. in International Studies and her M.A. in Sociology from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM, Mexico City).  From 2004-2011 she worked as a research assistant for the Center of Interdiscipliary Studies in Sciences and Humanities and as a teacher assistant for the Department of Policial  and Social Sciences in the UNAM.  Carol is interested in Geopolitical and Latin American Studies, particularly in exploring the relationship between nation-state and strategic natural resources.  Now she is focused on studying contemporary Latin American indigenous movements.  She is an enthusiast follower of the Mexican indigenous movement Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacion Nacional EZLN). Carol can be contacted at

Michelle Holliday

Michelle received her Bachelors degree in Psychology, with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Michigan in 2008. She graduated from Drexel University with a Masters in Public Health in 2012 in Philadelphia, PA. While at Drexel University she focused on perinatal HIV prevention and collaborated on a project to analyze the impact of informal reporting of sexual orientation on the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey on data collection practices in the United States. She is currently pursing her Ph.D. at Portland State University and working as an instructor to fulfill her graduate assistantship. Her primary research interest is the relationship between education policy and mental health outcomes for sexual minority youth, in addition to disparities in educational outcomes for racial minorities. She is currently collaborating with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to help promote safe schools across the state of Oregon. You can contact Michelle at

Selected Publications:

Sell RL, Holliday ML. (2014). Sexual Orientation Data Collection Policy in the United State: Public Health Malpractice. American Journal of Public Health: June 2014, Vol. 104, No. 6, pp. 967-969. 

Heather McCabe

Heather McCabe is currently working towards a Masters in Sociology at Portland State University. The focus of her thesis is the impact of occupational prestige and gender on experiences of work/family conflict. Some of her other research interests include education, language, culture, religion, and disability. Heather received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona where she studied French, Religious Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. She also holds a Graduate Certificate of Nonprofit Leadership from Minnesota State University Mankato and has several years of experience working in the fields of education and human services. Heather can be reached at

David Osborn

David comes to the academy as a long time and ongoing participant in social movements. He has been involved in various social and environmental justice movements for the past decade. He is currently involved in the climate justice movement as a collective member with Rising Tide North America. Given this background David's academic engagement is focused on social movements and social change. He is oriented to generating value-based, movement-relevant scholarship through active involvement in social movements and the utilization of participatory methodologies. He is particulary interested in social movement process and structure as well as agency, hierarchy and narrative. He is currently researching the ontological work/impacts of social movements and the climate justice movement. His writing on the Occupy Movement appears in several books and he regularly publishes work on social movements and climate change. David has been a faculty member at Portland State University since 2010 where he teaches in the interdisciplinary general education program - University Studies. He received a B.A. in psychology, sociology and political science from the University of Oregon and M.S. from the London School of Economics and Political Science in international political economy. He can be reached at

Neil Panchmatia

Neil is interested in the intersection of immigration and religion, with his current research focusing upon the arrival and resettlement experiences of Somali refugees in the Portland area. His previous work has been on faith-based social service providers and the role of Church-State partnerships in providing arrival/adjustment assistance to immigrants and refugees. Immigrant and refugee human rights are a core tenet guiding Neil's scholarship and social activism. He received his BS degree in Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University and was a part of the MS program in Social Responsibility at St. Cloud State University. In the past, he has received the Upper Midwest Human Right Fellowship, the Miriam Weinstein Peace and Justice Education Award as well as the Academic and Cultural Sharing Scholarship at SCSU. He is currently a member of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean's Student Advisory Council, the Cultural Centers Advisory Council, as well as a member of the advisory board for the Harambee Center (an outreach organization focusing on East Africa). Neil is also currently interning with the Office of International Affairs at PSU, conducting a program evaluation for its International Student Mentor Program (ISMP) and is an intern at the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO) working on public policy planning and outreach in Oregon. Additionally, he is active with EMO's partner organization, S.O.A.R. (Sponsors Organized to Assist Refugees) which provides assistance to newly arrived refugees in Portland. Neil was born and raised in Kenya, Africa and has lived in England, Canada, and the USA. Neil works under the tutelage of Dr. Alex Stepick: his advisor and thesis chair. He can be reached at or

Trent Saari

Trent Saari received his B.S. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2012 with a minor in Anthropology. He is currently pursuing his Master's degree in Sociology at Portland State University and is currently running an undergraduate quantitative lab to fulfill his graduate assistantship. His Master's research consists of exploring participant's unique understandings of their participation in a non-hierarchical social movement that provides basic material necessities for survival (specifically food). His overall research interests lie in the consequences of neoliberal policies and how social movements may attempt to fill the gap that is left as the level of state provisioning is reduced. Trent Saari can be reached at

Caroline Smith

Caroline Smith is a social epidemiologist in the Safety & Health Research for Prevention (SHARP) program at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. Caroline received her Bachelor's degree in Sociology/Antropology from Lewis and Clark College, her Master's in Public Health from the University of Washington and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Portland State University. Caroline's research interests are primarily in medical sociology and work and occupations. Specifically her research interests include occupational health disparities for racial and ethnic minorities, contingent workers and other special populations such as older workers and immigrant populations, as well as various types of labor market inequalities (wage inequalities, gender segregation, etc). Caroline is a member of the Pacific Sociological Association, American Sociological Association, American Statistical Association and the American Public Health Association. You can reach Caroline at

Selected publications:

Fan, Z. J., Smith, C. K., & Silverstein, B. A. (2011). Responsiveness of the QuickDASH and SF-12 in workers with neck or upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders: One-year follow-up. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 21(2), 234-243. URL:

Bonauto, D. K., Smith, C. K., Adams, D. A., Fan, Z. J., Silverstein, B. A., & Foley, M. P. (2010). Language preference and non-traumatic low back disorders in Washington state workers' compensation. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 53(2), 204-215. URL:

Smith, C. K., Bonauto, D. K., Silverstein, B. A., & Wilcox, D. (2010). Inter-rater reliability of physical examinations in a prospective study of upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 52(10), 1014-1018. URL:

Smith, C. K., Silverstein, B. A., Bonauto, D. K., Adams, D., & Joyce Fan, Z. (2010). Temporary workers in Washington State. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 53(2), 135-145. URL:

Silverstein, B. , Fan, Z. J. , Smith, C. K. , Bao, S. , Howard, N. , Spielholz, P. , . . . Viikari-Juntura, E. (2009). Gender adjustment or stratification in discerning upper extremity musculoskeletal disorder risk? Scand J Work Environ Health, 35(2), 113-126. URL:

Smith, C. K., Silverstein, B. A., Fan, Z. J., Bao, S., & Johnson, P. W. (2009). Psychosocial factors and shoulder symptom development among workers. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 52(1), 57-68. URL:

Fan, Z. J., Smith, C. K., & Silverstein, B. A. (2008). Assessing Validity of the QuickDASH and SF-12 as Surveillance Tools among Workers with Neck or Upper Extremity Musculoskeletal Disorders. Journal of Hand Therapy, 21(4), 354-365. URL:

Spielholz, P., Cullen, J., Smith, C., Howard, N., Silverstein, B., & Bonauto, D. (2008). Assessment of perceived injury risks and priorities among truck drivers and trucking companies in Washington State. Journal of Safety Research, 39(6), 569-576. URL:

Sonja Taylor

Sonja received her Bachelor's degree in Biology, with an emphasis on zoology and physiology, from Portland State University in 2000. She continued at PSU, earning a Master's in Conflict Resolution in 2006. Upon completion of her MS, Sonja began teaching as an adjunct for PSU during Winter Term 2007. She is currently pursuing a second Master's in Sociology at Portland State University while continuing to work as an adjunct, primarily teaching the course Family & Society. Her primary research interest is the construction of identity though dyadic relationships, in addition to inequalities in parental experiences based on differences in socioeconomic status. She is currently working on her thesis project about elementary school parent perceptions of their role in the parent/teacher relationship. You can contact Sonja at

Kimberli Ulmer Langston

 Kimberli Ulmer graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor's in Human Development and Family Studies, a Master's in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis on Human Development and Sociology, and a Master's in Sociology. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Portland State University and working as an instructor to fulfill her graduate assistantship. Her area of interest is primarily medical sociology from a global perspective with an emphasis on inequality and health disparities within and across nations using quantitative methodology. You can contact Kim Ulmer at

Elizabeth Withers

Elizabeth received her bachelor's degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Oregon, her master's degree in Sociology from Portland State University, and is now working towards her PhD. She has been working with the Portland State Literacy, Language and Technology research group on a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) examining tutor-facilitated digital literacy acquisition in hard to serve populations. This three year project is focused on evaluating the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) which is utilizing Learner Web technology at different sites in California, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, and Texas. Elizabeth’s interests are in medical sociology and racial and class-based health disparities with a focus on differences in the effects of education and digital literacy. She is interested in research methodologies and in particular mixed methods research designs which she is hoping to utilize in her dissertation research. She is also an active member of the PSU Sociology Graduate Student Organization (SGSO). You can reach Elizabeth at